After 3 chaotic days in Knoxville, it looks like The University of Tennesee has found their man. Derrick Dooley will be trading in the big red “T” (La Tech) for the big orange “T” (Tennessee). It has been widely known that Tennessee would move quickly in the hiring of a coach in order to salvage at least some of the recruiting class and to calm the fanbase. The speculation out of Knoxville was that the Vols would make another splash with the hiring since the departure of Lane Kiffin has come so close to signing day. Those speculations can be put to rest. This isn’t a splash hire. However, Dooley does have the pedigree and the resume to continue to rebuild Tennessee back to an SEC powerhouse.
Dooley was a walk on receiver at the University of Virginia. His coaching career started in 1996 at the University of Georgia as a grad assistant. From there he went on to SMU for 3 years before arriving at LSU in 2000. At LSU he wore many hats, but the one that stands out to me is “recruiting coordinator” while under Nick Saban. Let me say that again…..Nick Saban. While at LSU, Dooley landed the #1 recruiting class in both 2001 and 2003. He later followed Saban to the Miami Dolphins. In 2007 La Tech tabbed him as their next head coach. Since taking over the Bulldogs, Dooley has compiled a mediocre 17-20 record. His best season coming in 2008.
So was this hire strictly about salvaging a recruiting class? That remains to be seen. Only time will tell.
It’s also worth noting that 3 Mountain West conference coaches have now turned down offers by Tennessee. TCU’s Gary Patterson in 2008 and both Air Force’s Troy Calhoun and Utah’s Kyle Whittingham in 2010. Other coaches that spurned Tennessee in 2010…Texas D coordinator Will Muschamp (the heavy favorite) and Duke head coach David Cutcliffe.